Mia Keating sent us some fresh cinnamon sticks from Madagascar. This is the only place outside Sri Lanka where true Ceylon cinnamon (cinnamomum Zeylanicum) grows. Sailors from Sri Lanka would have stopped off at Madagascar to replenish their stores after the long journey across the Indian Ocean, before negotiating the Cape of Good Hope.
This cinnamon is certainly recogniseable as Ceylon cinnamon. It has the same citrusy scent but is weaker than Ceylon cinnamon. The bark is a lot thicker, but only because it is grown and harvested differently – see photos below. It certainly won’t grate. In looks it resembles low-grade Ceylon cinnamon: Mexican grade or Hamburg grade.
The cultivation of cinnamon in Madagascar fizzled out in recent decades because of over-harvesting; entire plants were deracinated so that even the roots could be peeled. Only after the export of cinnamon from Madagascar was forbidden, thus making it uneconomical to produce cinnamon, did the cinnamon grow back. The ban has recently been lifted and the farmers have learnt sustainable farming methods so there is every chance that cinnamon farming will recover in Madagascar and one day, perhaps, compete with indigenous Ceylon cinnamon. We shall be following this one closely. In the meantime, thank you Mia.